A prominent Catholic bishop in Los Angeles has resigned after confessing he broke his vow of celibacy — and is the father of two teens.
Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala, 60, was granted early resignation Wednesday under a church law that allows bishops to step down before the normal retirement age of 75 due to sickness or other serious reasons.
“I’m shocked. I can’t believe it,” Arcelia Encinas, a relative by marriage who watched Zavala grow up, told the Daily News.
“He’s a really playful, nice person,” the 68-year-old woman from Chino, Calif., said. “He was mischievous as a young boy, but he grew up in the Catholic Church and was very dedicated.”
Officials said Zavala admitted in early December that he had two kids living with their mother outside California.
“I have some sad and difficult information to share with you,” Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez said in a letter breaking the news to church members Wednesday.
He said Zavala stepped down from active ministry last month and subsequently asked Pope Benedict XVI to accept his resignation.
Archbishop Gomez asked members of the archdiocese to pray for “all those impacted” by the revelation, especially the minor children.
“The archdiocese has reached out to the mother and children to provide spiritual care as well as funding to assist the children with college costs,” he wrote in the letter posted on the blog of the Catholic News Service of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“The family’s identity is not known to the public, and I wish to respect their right to privacy,” he said.